Novel Coworking’s Response to COVID-19
Top 10 Productivity Podcasts To Listen To In 2021

Top 10 Productivity Podcasts To Listen To In 2021

Self-improvement is an essential skill for any entrepreneur. How can anyone hope to get to where they want to be if they can’t take the simplest steps to better themselves?

But what if you’re constantly busy at work and home, with little time to attend inspiring seminars or read self-improvement books? The answer is simple: podcasts. They allow you to listen and learn on the move: during a workout, or on the way to work. But with thousands of podcasts to choose from, finding a starting place may be difficult.

Here’s a list of podcasts worth looking into.


1. The Tim Ferriss Show

Out of all the podcasts we looked into, Tim Ferriss’s stood out as the most popular. Bestselling author and “world’s best human guinea pig,” Ferriss is best known for The 4-Hour Workweek, now translated into over 40 languages. On his podcast, Ferriss invites and interviews someone from a niche background or industry, then uncovers the secrets to their success. In the past, he’s covered investment, technology, eastern philosophy, meditation, and much more. Ferriss’s disarming personality and genuine curiosity makes this podcast an entertaining listen.

Best episode: “Lessons Learned Traveling The World”


2. The Accidental Creative

Learn to develop everyday skills that can help you stay healthy, creative, and productive. The Accidental Creative Podcast is hosted by Todd Henry, author of Die Empty, Louder Than Words, and of course, The Accidental Creative. Each episode is less than half an hour, which is perfect for squeezing in a little wisdom in between a lunch break. Whether you’re a creative or a business professional, there’s something for everyone in this podcast.

Best episode: “Exactly What To Say” (with Phil M. Jones)


3. Back To Work

If you want something specifically focused on improving work habits, you’d be hard-pressed to find something better than Back to Work. This award-winning weekly podcast from Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin break down the most common topics in the workplace, from productivity to communication. Listening to Merlin and Dan is like listening to two friends talk casually, which makes for some great background listening.

Best episode: “Alexa, Light It Up!”


4. Productivityist

Mike Vardy has made quite the name for himself. Not only has his company, Productivityist, been mentioned by Lifehacker and Fast Company, but the podcast of the same name has quickly become a productivity podcast favorite. Vardy’s goal is to help listeners “define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter” through actionable tips and useful tools. Not bad for a half hour weekly podcast.

Best episode: “Morning Routines with Benjamin Spall”


5. Cortex

A collaboration between Myke Hurley (host of and CGP Grey (YouTuber, host of Hello Internet), Cortex explores the work processes and productivity hacks of two self-employed content creators. Listening to these two hosts talk about their work can be one of the most inspiring moments of your week, no different to learning from a mentor.

Best episode: “Cortex 1: I Don’t Really Like Work”


6. Beyond The To-Do List

Host Erik Fisher hit a home run in choosing a title for his podcast. Not only does each episode teach you how to get more done, but it also explores the main purpose of productivity- living a meaningful life between personal and work life. The podcast features interviews with real entrepreneurs and thought leaders, extracting the most important lessons of time-management, motivation, and organization. After a couple of episodes, you’ll be using some of his tactics right away.

Best episode: Sleep: Shawn Stevenson on Caffeine and Screen Curfews to get better Sleep 


7. Masters of Scale

An original podcast by Reid Hoffman (founder of LinkedIn), Masters of Scale explores how companies seemingly grow from nothing into major, worldwide phenomenons. Hoffman starts each episode with a theory about scaling businesses and then tests the idea by interviewing the leading figures and influencers today.

Best episode: Special Episode: Remote Teams with Matt Mullenweg, Co-Founder and CEO of Automattic


8. Business Wars

Ever wondered about the biggest battles in the business industry? Whether its Netflix v. HBO or Pizza Hut vs. Dominos, Business Wars covers the shocking dark side of the biggest corporate rivalries in history. You’ll learn about how some brands come to be cultural landmarks, how others get forgotten by history and the countless Machiavellan plays made by leaders and entrepreneurs.

Best episode: Amazon vs Walmart – The Big Bang Theory of E-Commerce


9. How I Built This with Guy Raz

Journalist and NPR host Guy Raz has developed a reputation as one of the most popular podcasters ever, and with his podcast, How I Built This, it’s not hard to see why. Learn about the stories about early beginnings and touch decisions made by the world’s most famous companies, including Lyft, Bumble, Khan Academy, Airbnb, and many more.

Best episode: Wikipedia: Jimmy Wales


10. The Mind Your Business Podcast

Entrepreneurs understand the secret to success lies with one’s mindset. James Wedmore, an online entrepreneur, hosts a podcast specifically designed around the entrepreneur’s mindset, and how it can have a greater impact than any strategy. Each episode is only 20-45 minutes long, but you’ll walk away with lessons that stay with you long after they’re done.

Best episode: The Way To Grow Is To ____


The Journey of Productivity

One of the best ways to improve yourself is to learn from the experts- the individuals who faced the same struggles and setbacks and converted their failure into wisdom. Listening to actionable advice helps us avoid the same pitfalls.

These are just a few suggestions out of dozens other productivity podcasts. There’s simply far too many out there to put into a single list. The same is true for blogs. Here are 7 great blogs to get started.

But it’s not enough to listen to podcasts, you have to apply the lessons each day: like managing your time, getting an early start, or finding a place to focus and work. Healthy habits are formed with time and discipline.

To get more tips and resources on maximizing productivity, follow Novel Coworking’s Blog today.

Importance of an Office Layout

Importance of an Office Layout

You may not think about it during the day, but your office layout can make a huge impact on your mindset and your work. With a few adjustments to your office furniture, you can design a more productive and pleasurable work experience.


What’s an office layout?

This seems like an obvious answer: it’s how your office equipment and furniture are laid out within a certain space. However, we don’t want to just arrange these items based on space- office furniture and equipment should be arranged to maximize productivity, creativity, and collaboration.

It’s that second part that many businesses fail to grasp. Your office environment should encourage you to get more work done and communicate with the rest of your team effectively- sometimes, these objectives aren’t easy to accomplish when you have a lot of equipment, a lot of workers, or not enough office space (or all three).


Importance of an Office Layout


A productive environment breeds a productive mindset

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to get work done in your living room, or even in a personal office? Your workplace is a reflection of your headspace. If it’s cramped, old, or cluttered, it’ll be a lot harder to hold productive calls or focus on your current project. A flexible, spacious layout can inspire more focused concentration.


Open spaces can foster creative collaboration

Sharing an office with someone else can not only be more cost-effective (particularly for startups and entrepreneurs) but it can improve communication and encourage the important conversations that need to happen: whether that concerns a potential bottleneck, a troublesome team member, or an opportunity to innovate. Managers will also notice a change in employee morale, as team members will feel more legitimacy in their work when they have a dedicated workspace.


An office can help protect and safeguard your team

Innovations such as webcam security, keycard access, and biometrics offer a unique security advantage compared to a traditional workspace. Teams that need not worry about the safety of their possessions or the well-being of their colleagues can enjoy a sense of comfort and peace of mind. Remember to always inquire about emergency planning and procedures no matter which office you choose.


What are the best types of office layout?

Experiment with different design ideas until you find one that best complements your workflow. Try using one of these layouts:


Cellular/Cubicle Office

Most commonly found in older office buildings, the cellular or cubicle office arranges employees and desks by rows and columns, often with low walls to divide people and (supposedly) retain their concentration. While these layouts still exist, they are gradually being phased out in favor of more open layouts.


Open Office Layout

In contrast, an open layout removes doors and walls as barriers to communication and collaboration. Multiple workers may share a single table, and the tables may be scattered throughout the space. These layouts have become more popular with startups as well as large tech firms as it encourages more immediate communication.

Read our previous article on how open offices can actually enhance your productivity.


Coworking Layout

Directly inspired by an open office layout, a coworking layout also eliminates walls or boundaries, but is much larger and often shared among multiple companies. The coworking space may feature couches, shared desks, private or dedicated desks, or high counters. Coworking has the added benefit of encouraging cross-company communication and networking.


Functional Layout

Some businesses may have unique services or products they work on and may decide to arrange their offices around the most frequently used equipment and machinery. For example, a startup that focuses on recording podcasts may strip their space and lay their computers, chairs, and other equipment around the recording microphone.


Match your company culture with your office layout

Ultimately, no one can tell you how to arrange your team, furniture, and equipment- you have to decide what’s best for your business. Some companies have a greater need for private spaces while others desire more meeting spaces.

One way to design your office layout is by basing it on your team’s needs and culture. Ask yourself these questions:

    • What does my business do?
    • What are the most common tasks each day?
    • What devices, equipment, or furniture does my team require to accomplish their work?
    • Open layout or cellular layout?
    • Collaboration or privacy?
    • Creativity or efficiency?

At the end of the day, these questions are about your business’s brand and culture. Ask yourself whether your space accurately and honestly reflects the team’s personality.

For some more advice, check out our previous post on how to create an engaging workplace, and read our office layout do’s and don’ts.


The Impact of an Office Layout on Productivity

Cubicles are a thing of the past. According to BizJournal, 81% of office owners and managers say office space is “very important” when it comes to hiring top talent, and 78% say they’re “increasingly being asked for open-office environments” and “more collaborative workspaces.”

Where and how your team works greatly affects the end product of their labors. When you make it easier and more enjoyable for your team to work, you can look forward to a stronger, more enhanced version of your brand.


Office Layouts & Social Distancing

2020 saw a major shift in the workplace due to the coronavirus. Offices around the world have updated their layouts and designs to encourage greater social distancing and overall public safety. This includes more spaced out furniture, sneeze guards, and even limitations on how many people can be in a space at a given time. Remember to practice safe distancing and protocols to prevent the spread of viruses in the workplace, regardless of where you work. Be sure to visit Novel Coworking’s COVID-19 Protection Plan for more information and guidance.

Tips for Renting Office Space in Chicago

Tips for Renting Office Space in Chicago

You’ve established your company and have been working from home. It’s been a few months and things are starting to look great! You’ve seen some sales and a couple of repeat customers. It’s time to take your brand to the next level.

Sure, working from home is awesome. You don’t have to worry about traffic and you minimize expenses while spending time with your family and pets during lunch break.

But working from home can have its disadvantages too. Having your kids and pets around can also be a distraction. The temptation to procrastinate is psychologically higher when we are at home. This could cause you to miss out on goals for the quarter, leading to difficulties along the way.

Staying at home can also be quite limiting. Both for you and your business. You see, in order to grow your business, you’re going to need to expand your operations. This means expanding your team, who will then need space to function and collaborate. Even the hippest and fresh disruptors in every industry have an office where they meet to focus on and achieve company goals.


The benefits of renting Office Space in Chicago

As an entrepreneur, renting out or leasing an office should be seen as an investment towards your business. You are investing in a space to cultivate ideas and promote collaboration amongst your team.

In recent years, corporate businesses have begun to shift towards moving their operations to a coworking set up. This is where several employees from different companies come and share an office space. Doing so allows for a reduced cost in amenities, utilities, and office equipment.

An effective strategy, especially at the beginning, is to minimize budget while maximizing productivity. A common path for startups in recent years is to take advantage of the new trend found in coworking spaces. This type of office space is ideal for young companies as a catalyst in accelerating their growth. Some major corporations have chosen coworking spaces over leased offices, as well. In September 2016, HSBC decided to move 300 of its employees into a coworking space. Microsoft and IBM have also taken initiatives in moving their employees to a coworking space.

Perhaps one of the biggest draws, if not the biggest, of a coworking space is the inherent opportunity for networking. Not only have you invested in a flexible space to develop your ideas and strategies, but you have several potential business partners to choose from. It’s not rare to share a table with a different company, in a different industry, looking to connect. This allows for an avenue for businesses to grow and evolve. Collaboration is key to evolving your business.

For example, let’s say you’re an online brand looking to expand your reach. In your space, you might find someone working with a logistics company, a useful partner to provide your customers with excellent last-mile delivery. A digital marketer might teach you a few tricks to increase conversion or a web designer might show you how to revamp your website. Soon, you’ll be taking your brand to new heights.

The idea is all about keeping costs down while gaining an avenue to boost growth, sales, and production. Moving certain parts of your organization to a coworking space that will directly benefit from what they can offer is a good solution.

An example of this is your marketing team. Collaboration and networking are key in marketing. A coworking space makes their jobs a lot easier by having them work in the vicinity of potential sponsors or partners. However, your product team might need their own private office that will allow them creative freedom without having to worry about privacy and spilling trade secrets.


Best areas to have an office in Chicago


River North

This district is known for its artistic and creative identity. With a focus on design and fashion, River North attracts not only creatives but is also home to numerous tech companies. Surrounded by galleries, ad agencies, designers, and writers, inspiration is just around the corner.

This district is also quite close to some of the residential areas in the greater Chicagoland area. Being close to downtown but just far enough to avoid the busy streets of the district, River North is the best of both worlds in terms of a relaxed and productive community.


The Loop

Considered to be the central business district, The Loop is where major corporations reside. This is also where the Chicago Mercantile Exchange is found. Naturally, you’ll see busy people in suits and corporate outfits walking and rushing to their offices.

A great place to set up your headquarters for medium to large organizations, here you can find the hallmarks of an active business district. Mixing corporate aesthetics with wonderful public art, you’ll find an abundance of offices and coworking spaces to choose from to fit your style and work ethic.


West Loop

With a more high-end vibe, West Loop is considered to be the city’s main shopping district. Finance and insurance are prominent industries in the district along with some of the biggest tech companies in the world like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google.

The West Loop district is an ideal location for small teams starting out. There are cost-effective workspaces found here that provide a modern feel with high-end amenities to discover. And due to the high volume of dining options, taking clients out to lunch is easy and convenient.



Wacker Drive runs along the side of The Loop and shares it’s bustling central business district vibe. A convenient location for an office, you’ll be able to avoid the crowds during rush hour while enjoying easy access to restaurants, stores, and other conveniences.


Chicago Office Space Market Statistics

Several industries and sectors have shown a trend in expansion leading to strong competition for space in the city.

The question is what is more viable for your business. Will you and your brand benefit from having an office for yourself? Or would it be cost-effective to rent out an office that you share with other companies?

What are the latest Chicago office space rental rates? As of 2020, on average, it’s about $50 per square foot to rent an office space. A commercial 300 square foot office would cost you around $15,000 per month for the lease. Quite expensive. And that’s just space. You still need to shoulder the costs of utilities, such as electricity and water.

However, coworking spaces boast substantially lower costs. For as low as $300, you could secure a spot at some of the best coworking spaces in town. Not only do you not have to worry about equipment and utilities but you also get a good pipeline of business partners and clients to connect and network with.


How to find the ideal office space

Searching for the ideal office space for you and your company is like looking for your next apartment. It’s exciting and motivating. You can’t wait to settle down and get those creative juices flowing.

Things to consider are your needs and budget. What kind of office space are you looking for? Are you looking for a private office where you have full control of its set up? Or a shared workspace where you have a healthy network of partners looking to collaborate.

You also have to consider maintenance. Owning an office, as opposed to renting or sharing a workspace, obligates you to consider maintenance as part of your budget. Remember, an office is an investment on your part. What would be good for your brand and team right now?

Speaking of your team, you also have to consider their individual spaces. Are you going to provide a dedicated desk for each person on your team? Each desk (and chair!) comes with its own costs as well. You’ll have to keep in mind the internet connection and cable set up, along with amenities and utilities to help you focus on what’s important.

A core requirement for every office is access to a meeting room. This is important because the meeting room is where ideas and strategies are born. Each and every step the company makes is decided there. So consider the features of the meeting room as well. What would you need? Obviously, a quiet space where the arguments and discussions held inside are kept inside. A projector for convenience, as well as a whiteboard for taking down ideas during your brainstorming sessions.


How to Create a Contingency Plan for Small Businesses

How to Create a Contingency Plan for Small Businesses

Entrepreneurs should always be prepared for any risks that might arise in their business. Issues like technical problems, natural disasters, or simply a sudden shift in the market could drastically change the course of the company forever.

As a responsible business owner, one must consider a contingency plan should any of these scenarios come up. As with any business, there are problems that can be anticipated while some are unpredictable. In many cases, these unpredictable events are often the ones that cause the most damage. Having a contingency plan ready, for the most likely situations, is the best way of staying ahead of your competition.


How to Create a Contingency Plan for Small Businesses


Risk Identification

The first step in creating a contingency plan is identifying potential risks. These “risks” vary depending on certain factors such as your type of business, industry, location and more. Here are some general risks that should be considered:


1. Staff

One of the core aspects for a business is personnel. Your staff helps you keep the business going as they perform their daily tasks. There are multiple ways to look at this angle. Some of the more mild scenarios are when a staff member suddenly can’t come to work and you need to find someone to cover for them. Another angle is when problems are caused by a staff member whether intentional or not, such as harassment or gossip. You have to ask yourself how you can protect your workers both physically and mentally.

2. Partners

Having partners for your business is as much a reward as risk. While you have someone to help out with multiple aspects of the business, you’re also opening yourself up to more potential headaches. You have to ask yourself what you would do if a partner were to drop out or suddenly become controlling of the business. You have to be prepared to cut ties or at least have a workaround to get them back on track.

3. Inventory

Inventory risks depend on whether your business actually has important inventory to take care of. Businesses in the food industry will have to be prepared when certain events might cause your inventory to stall, run out of stock, or expire quickly. High value inventory like those in the tech space might also be at risk from physical or IP theft. Even online businesses with digital assets run the risk of compromised security.

4. Technology

As businesses rely more and more on technology to function, there are risks that come with it. Software can be prone to attacks, and newer, safer versions of technology can come at a high price. Identify what kind of technology your business uses. Do you rely on technology to create and manufacture products? Do you use technology to distribute goods? Or is it used for protecting confidential information? These all have their own risks that will cause multiple problems if not addressed properly.


Business Essentials

After identifying risks, you must start looking into the essentials of your business. What should be prioritized for protection is answered by what will keep your business alive. These are 4 general assets for every business to consider as priorities.


1. People

Above all, protect your workers and customers first. Business and profits may come and go, but human life is precious and irreplaceable. Always think of the different ways to keep your team happy, through benefits, reasonable hours, and substantial pay. And keep your customers happy by offering generous return policies or money-back guarantees. No matter how you do it, there’s always a way to keep everyone involved happy and protected.


2. Data

Countless businesses store sensitive records of their customers, including addresses, financial information, even personal preferences. Keeping data safe is of utmost importance as this helps you jump start your business back up should there be any issues. Create backups of your data and hire professionals to implement secure data systems. The initial investment for protection is minor compared to the fines involving a data breach.


3. Equipment 

From computers to cash registers, the equipment that your business uses are important assets in generating income. Ensure that your supplies, equipment, inventory, and spaces are locked, protected, and insured in the event of a theft or natural disaster.


4. Emergency Finance

Sometimes, you cannot predict what may devastate your business, like a hurricane or a pandemic. Having a savings account as well as pre-approved credit should be useful for your business when you need funds to help mitigate and respond to risks.



Contingency plans are worthless if they are not properly communicated to the team and to customers. That is why every contingency plan must have an accompanying communication plan to align workers with company values and prevent chaos.

To employees, it’s vital that everyone in the company understands the overall contingency strategy, and to get buy-in from leaders as soon as possible. Consider a simple retail store affected by an economy in recession. Without proper communication from their leaders, employees may be confused and angered by the retailer’s decision to reduce pay or close stores. This can be avoided by working with HR to develop a clearly written letter to each employee, as well as frequent meetings discussing contingency plan options.

To customers, contingency plans can quickly be perceived as a red flag if not handled correctly. While maintaining a website or various social media accounts has made it easier to communicate than ever before, you also run the risk of being heavily criticized. Just look at how Greenpeace attacked Nestle’s use of palm oil. Nestle lacked the experience to formulate a swift response, and took a beating in sales and public perception. Consider how your business may be negatively affected by a backlash, and how a contingency plan may turn a risk into an opportunity.


Why Create a Contingency Plan?

Creating a contingency plan means creating an actionable strategy when certain problems arise, especially when they are out of your control. Your ability to continue functioning as a business depends on how well you’ve prepared for these unlikely scenarios. From earthquakes to typhoons, you must consider what you must do in order to protect your people, property, and reputation.

Changes in the economic landscape will also force businesses to be more nimble and adaptive. The world has experienced financial disasters such as market crashes and economic depressions. As a consequence, you must also be able to respond adequately to inflation of materials and labor to ensure that your business does not lose money more than it can handle.


Creating the Contingency Plan

Hopefully, we’ve convinced you of the importance of having a contingency plan for your business. Now it’s time to brainstorm and implement what you’ve learned.

After identifying the potential risks, start to prioritize them in terms of risk level and difficulty of response. Consider your type of business and assess what you can do in order to mitigate these risks or if these risks are a non-factor for you.

If you manage a team, be sure to make them aware of important details of the plan. Obviously there is confidential information that not everyone should know but it’s best to be transparent as much as possible. Conduct team training and repeat annually for new and veteran members to stay up to date. The company that stays prepared will be ready for almost anything that comes their way.


Novel Coworking Response to COVID-19

Novel Coworking Response to COVID-19

At Novel Coworking, the health and safety of our clients and employees is our top priority. We are adhering to the recommendations of the World Health Organization and local health authorities regarding the prevention of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Updates for week of 3/16 – 3/20:

  • Novel Coworking will remain open this week. Our clients have 24/7 access as usual, but will need their keycard or fob to enter the building.
  • Our janitorial service will be increased and supervisors will be signing off on a cleaning & disinfecting checklist daily.
  • Conference rooms will be unlocked, and we encourage clients to use the Novel Coworking app to book time slots to avoid double-booking. We will not be charging clients for conference room time this week (3/16 – 3/20).
  • Our Center Staff will be handling all essential tasks. We understand clients may not feel comfortable coming into the business center to collect mail. Upon request and until further notice, Novel Coworking is willing to forward clients’ mail. We are happy to provide this mail forwarding service at no charge this week (3/16 – 3/20).
  • We recommend social distancing. If a client is a coworking member and would like to use a vacant office to avoid contact with others, for a limited time, we’ll open a private office for free if we have one available.


Across all Novel Coworking buildings, we are taking at minimum the following steps:

  • Making sure all common area surfaces are clean and hygienic
    • Cleaning kitchens, bathrooms, and common area desks and tables with disinfectant daily. Spray Lysol Disinfectant on common area door handles and building entrances/exits
    • Encouraging customers to disinfect personal office surfaces (desks and tables) and objects (telephones and keyboards) daily
  • Promoting regular and thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors, and customers
    • Putting sanitizing hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the center. Refill regularly
    • Displaying posters promoting hand-washing (attached). Deliver posters via app communication weekly
    • Making sure staff, contractors, and customers have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water
  • Promoting good respiratory hygiene
    • Displaying posters promoting respiratory hygiene (attached). Deliver posters via app communication weekly
    • Advising employees, contractors, and customers to stay home (or work from home) if they experience COVID-19 symptoms including low-grade fever (99 degrees F)


We will continue to monitor the situation closely and update protocol as needed. During these turbulent times, Novel Coworking will be working hard to limit the disruption to our valuable clients and their business.

Office Etiquette: How To Be A Better Deskmate

Office Etiquette: How To Be A Better Deskmate

When it comes to working in a shared office space, there are written and unwritten rules. Some rules may be obvious, others less so, but following them closely can lead to stronger professional relationships with your team and more fulfilling experiences at work.

Let’s explore the best ways you can become a better coworker through your office etiquette.


1. Be mindful of others

Although a shared office space is quite different from a traditional working environment, people are still trying to get work done. No matter what you’re doing, keep in mind how your work may be indirectly affecting (or annoying) others.

Taking an extensive phone or Skype call in an open area can be loud and distracting to others around you. Schedule a private office space or reserve a conference room ahead of time. If the call is last minute, step outside of the main area, use headphones, or lower your voice. The same goes for personal calls.

Stepping away from anyone who seems hard at work isn’t a bad idea. Noise isn’t the only thing to be aware of, consider how much space you’re using, or if your food may be giving off a strong odor. Being cognizant of how your actions impact others around you is one of the golden rules of open office space etiquette.


2. Communicate more clearly and openly

Shared office spaces are great for generating new ideas or sparking thoughtful conversations with others. Showing your face in the open area and working with your deskmates is a great way to find new business opportunities or just to meet new people at your office.

The key is being open to introducing yourself to new people, whether at a special event or by the coffee machine. Ask people about the work they do, any events they may be participating in, or just how their day is going. It’s not as hard as it seems.

That being said, do not be afraid to let others know if you have a deadline and cannot participate in an activity or a quick brainstorming session with a friend. Communication is key, even if you are not working directly with someone.


3. Invite passionate debates, avoid personal conflicts

Offices are naturally tense environments, and coworkers are bound to clash or argue. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In Patrick Lencioni’s 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, fear of conflict can lead to the avoidance of constructive debates. He writes:

“All great relationships require productive conflict in order to grow. Unfortunately, conflict is considered taboo in many situations, especially at work. And the higher you go up the management chain, the more you find people spending inordinate amounts of time and energy trying to avoid the kind of passionate debates that are essential to any great team.”

But when arguments turn personal, the conflict becomes less about the work and more about attacking each other. This should be avoided at all costs. If you are to have a passionate, even heated conversation with someone, make sure to keep it professional.


4. Come prepared and ready to work

No one likes working with someone who is two steps behind or constantly forgetting things. When going to a shared office space, be sure that you wear the proper dress code and have all the tools necessary to get your work done. If listening to music helps you focus, remember to bring your headphones. Some people even bring their own laptop stand, notebooks, pens and pencils, and laptop mouse.

Another thing to remember: just because it is called a shared office space does not mean that everything is meant to be shared. It’s important to always ask permission before using people’s chargers or equipment.

Check out our other post on tips for staying focused in a coworking space.


5. Stay clean and organized

Nobody likes a dirty and disorganized deskmate. No matter how busy you or your team become during the day, there’s no excuse for leaving a messy workstation.

Remember to take your belongings with you after using a desk. Clean, pack or discard any food or dinnerware after eating. Return any office supplies you may have borrowed from the building staff or your nearby deskmates.

Staying clean and hygienic is one of the top “unwritten” open office space rules to respecting the space and those around you.


6. Cultivate a culture of health and safety

Between all the deadlines and meetings, it can be easy to forget to take care of one’s health. We are quick to throw ourselves into working overtime or skipping lunch to stay productive. Help each other out by developing healthy habits and checking in on each other frequently.

Every once in a while, ask how your deskmate is faring with their work, and see if you can help take anything off their plate. If you see them particularly exhausted or depressed, talk to them, encourage them to take a break, or even leave early.

Never let work get in the way of someone’s well-being. The best office environments are the ones where everyone is excited to come in each day.


7. Respond to calls and messages more frequently

If you’re not in the office or working somewhere else, responsive communication is key. It ensures that you are both on the same page, even if you aren’t in the same room.

Whenever you receive a call, email, or text message, aim for a reasonable and consistent window of time for a response. For some that may be within one to three hours. The window is entirely up to you, but it’s essential you stick to it.

If you don’t think you’ll be able to respond in a timely fashion, create an auto-response email, such as when you are out for a vacation or in an important meeting. Doing so will help set expectations for your coworkers.


8. Be punctual to meetings

Be on time. Whenever you are late, even by a few minutes, you are signaling to someone that you do not prioritize their time. Traffic, late trains, and other obligations always get in the way, so prepare accordingly.

There’s an old quote that goes: “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.” That may seem like an extreme concept, but it may help you take punctuality more seriously. When in doubt, set an alarm and plan on being there fifteen minutes early, just in case anything comes up.


9. Praise hard work and major accomplishments

The day-to-day work can become so consuming that we forget to celebrate the small victories. But it’s vital to congratulate your coworkers on their work, whether they worked extensively on a certain project, or they pass a milestone such as a first anniversary.

Write or draw a quick note. Hand them a card. Or simply say directly. There are several ways you can show your appreciation without spending a fortune. A little can go a long way.


10. Master small talk, not gossip

Everyone has their own opinion of small talk, but the truth is that it’s an essential part of socializing with just about anyone. The best way to approach small talk is to be as genuine as possible. Be curious about your coworkers. Ask about their weekend, their plans for the night, their hobbies and interests outside of work.

There is a line you shouldn’t cross— make sure you never disparage or harass another coworker, even if they aren’t present. Nothing is worse than being known as the office gossip or creep. It lowers team morale and creates unfounded rumors. Rise above petty gossip or unwarranted advances and instead praise other coworkers genuinely.


Observing Shared Workspace Etiquette

The coworking experience depends heavily on the people who adhere to the open office space rules and etiquette. Those who follow the rules and etiquette, the ones who make and take every opportunity to treat others politely and keep their space clean, tend to work more efficiently and have a more satisfying office experience. Check out some of the office etiquette rules around the world in the infographic below.

International Office Etiquette Infographic

From Visually.

Just remember that your workspace is shared with others, so treat your deskmates’ space and privacy with as much respect as you would like in return.

Check out the various Novel Coworking locations available and discover how you can learn to love your office.